Super Rugby Match Preview
Saturday 14th July
Waratahs vs Brumbies
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19h45 local time, 09h45 GMT, 11h45 SA Time
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Will Houston, James Leckie
TMO: George Ayoub
Brumbies supporters will be praying for a series of rugby miracles this weekend.
The first prayers to the rugby gods will be about two games their team is not involved in, the clash between the Rebels and the Highlanders in Dunedin, and the Sharks vs Jaguares match-up in Durban.
The Brumbies need the Rebels and the Sharks to lose.
The next entreaties to the rugby gods and godlets will be asking for a Brumbies win over the Waratahs, with a bonus point to make their dreams come true.
A full five points from this game, and they draw level with the Rebels on the overall log, and if the Rebels get slaughtered by the Highlanders and some damage can be done to their points difference, the Brumbies might just sneak into the playoffs! As matters stand, even if they draw level, the Rebels haver the better points difference and would go through on the count-out……
The Brumbies believe that all the results will go their way.
And pigs might fly!
The ‘Tahs have won eight of their last nine Australian derbies, including their last five on the trot across which they’ve scored 50+ points on two occasions. The Brumbies have lost their last four national derbies away from home and what will also concern the Brumbie fans is that in just one of those four games, did their side score more than 20. That would not be enough to make a difference on the points differential with the Rebels……..
Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson has named an unchanged line-up as he felt it would be unfair to drop anyone after an impressive performance last weekend against the Sunwolves. Taqele Naiyaravoro will be eager to add to his 14 tries this season and edge Ben Lam to top spot.
Meanwhile, Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar has made two changes to the starting XV for the trip to Sydney.
McKellar has selected Scott Sio at loosehead prop and paired Richie Arnold with twin brother Rory for the first time in Super Rugby, as the Brumbies go looking for the bonus-point win that would give them a chance of playing in the play-offs.
Sio will team up with fellow Wallabies international Allan Alaalatoa either side of the impressive hooker Folau Fainga’a in the heart of the engine room in what is sure to be a colossal front-row battle with the club’s perennial rivals from New South Wales.
Blake Enever shifts from lock to flanker to compensate for the inclusion of Richie Arnold, with Tom Cusack unavailable, after the flanker suffered a head-knock in Hamilton against the Chiefs in Round 18. David Pocock and Isi Naisarani join Enever in the back-row.
The backline remains unchanged for the sixth straight game having crossed for a combined total of fifteen tries in that time-frame between them.
The Waratahs secured their top spot in the Australian conference last weekend, but still go up against the Brumbies with an unchanged starting lineup as they look to build up a head of steam for the quarterfinals next weekend.
The Waratahs will also want a win this weekend to prevent the Lions passing them into the Sanzaar contrived second place on the overall standings, with the right to host a semi-final should they progress.
The Brumbies’ slim hopes of sneaking through to the playoffs depend mostly on entreaties to the rugby gods, but they will try and make life as difficult as possible for the Waratahs at this late stage of the season.
This is set to be a yet another arm-wrestling Aussie derby, but the Waratahs just seem a bit better off in almost every position on the field, barring of course in the 7 jersey where David Pocock is as good as it gets.
The Waratahs have won four of their last five games – three in a row – and are through to the playoffs, so there is no real pressure on them this weekend. Meanwhile, the Brumbies do still have just a hint of a chance, and thus the weight of all the pressure, and that can often limit a team rather than push them to great heights. The Brumbies have not dealt well with pressure of late.
The ‘Tahs have the form, and the motivation of having qualified and thus can have some fun. The Brumbies have shown a tendency to look for someone to blame when they lose, and there can be no excuses this time. The pressure will be too much.
The Waratahs by 12.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Alex Newsome, 23 Bryce Hegarty
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andrew Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Blake Enever, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Lausii Taliauli